Occasionally I like to plan yoga classes around a particular family of asanas in order to spend more time exploring the benefits of a particular posture. Whilst I use forward folds in most of my yoga sequences, as the nights grow cooler and darker, I enjoy practicing and teaching forward folds and here are a few of the reasons why:
1. Forward folds allow us to explore length along the entire back of the body, from the heels to the crown of the head or fingertips. This helps with developing strength and flexibility in the spine and can reduce tension in the back, neck and shoulders.
2. Almost certainly related to the release of tension described in the point above, forward folds can soothe the nervous system, relieve stress and bring a sense of calm to the mind - ultimately leading to better sleep.
3. Folding forward will tone the abdominal muscles and gentle massage the internal organs, believed to improve digestion.
Whilst a simple forward fold might look relatively "easy" compared to other advanced looking postures, our daily movement patterns mean that often the lower back, hips and hamstrings offer resistance in our practice of forward folds, therefore making them more challenging than they appear. Approaching your practice with care, adapting where you need to with a bend in the knee and props, is the key to enjoying a deeper, calming practice.